Wet your whistle . . . and other ways to relieve dry mouth

Do you get dry eyes, dry skin and dry mouth this time of year? Many people tend to blame the cold, dry winter air that seeps into homes in much of the country. But it’s not actually the main cause of dry mouth.

 

Dry air can pull moisture from your mouth and leave you feeling thirsty with cracked lips and a dry nose and throat.

 

Why you might have dry mouth

Dry mouth can be caused by a number of things, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  •  Mouth breathing

But when dry mouth is persistent, it is usually because your salivary glands are not producing enough saliva. This can happen as the result of a: 

  • Possible side effect of many common medications, including those for high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and cancer
  • Symptom of certain diseases and health conditions – especially if you experience chronic dry mouth – like diabetes, Alzheimer’s or Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Common side effect of substance abuse, nerve damage or cancer treatments

Fortunately, there are several ways you can potentially find relief from dry mouth.

 

Try these solutions

If you’re experiencing dry mouth on a regular basis, make an appointment with your dentist or physician. They will help you determine the cause and offer treatment suggestions. They may offer solutions like these to alleviate the symptoms and stimulate saliva flow.

  • Use an over-the-counter saliva substitute.
  • Limit caffeine, as it makes your mouth drier.
  • Sip water regularly.
  • Chew sugar-fee gum.
  • Suck on sugar-free hard candies.
  • Use a topical fluoride product – available in some toothpastes, mouth rinses or gels – to protect your teeth.1
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol because they can dry out your mouth.
  • Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash labeled specifically for dry mouth relief.
  • Run a humidifier to add moisture to the air at night.

 

Why it’s so important to treat dry mouth

Because saliva is critical in protecting the teeth and tissues of the mouth, dry mouth can lead to a host of oral health complications, including:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Mouth sores
  • Thrush (an infection of the mouth and throat)
  • Cracked lips
  • Split skin at the corners of the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking or swallowing
  • Sore throat and hoarseness
  • Change in taste
  • Problems keeping dentures in place due to lack of saliva for suction

Dry mouth isn’t just uncomfortable. Because of these oral health issues, it can also hurt your smile and overall quality of life. Make sure to talk to your dentist or physician if dry mouth persists.

 

If you find some foods difficult to eat when your mouth is dry, try this tasty Tuscan Bean Soup recipe. Or just make it for a delicious way to warm up this winter!

 

Sources:

1 https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/fluoride-topical-and-systemic-supplements